Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Morning After -- Caps vs. Flyers

And order is restored . . .

It wasn’t the prettiest of contests, but a 5-3 win in Philadelphia after getting hammered the previous night is a big wet kiss of success, another rung up on the ladder, another step forward, another something something toward making the playoffs.

Once more, balance was the key word. Five different Caps scored goals – Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich (that’s two in three games…do we call him, “Gretz?”), Chris Clark, Bryan Muir, and Matt Pettinger. In goal, Brent Johnson wasn’t especially sharp – especially in the fun house of the second period – but he was when he had to be late in the contest, when he stopped ten shots in the 11:29 between what proved to be Bryan Muir’s game-winning goal and Matt Pettinger’s slam-the-door power play goal at the end.

Other stuff . . .

-- Simon Gagne scored a goal at 7:47 of the second period. Steve Eminger, who was on the ice for that goal, didn’t get another shift for almost twelve minutes . . . injury, equipment, or message?

-- Petr Nedved and Kyle Calder distinguished themselves last night for the Flyers. With a -2 and a -3, respectively, both now stand at -20 for the year. Fear not, Flyer fans . . . Joni Pitkanen (who didn’t play) is right there at -18, and R.J. Umberger is lurking at -13 along with Derian Hatcher at -12. These five players – a combined -83 for the year (now that would be some starting five . . . the Flyers could be down a touchdown after the first shift with this quintet out there) – are 1st, 1st, 4th, 8th, and 10th in the league in worst plus/minus.

-- John Erskine had another solid game . . . +1, four hits, four blocked shots.

-- If you haven’t been paying attention, Matt Pettinger leads the league among players with at least 20 games played in shooting percentage, 10 goals on 37 shots (27.0 percent). He was 1-for-2 last night.

-- Monday will be game 30 on the Caps schedule. It also will be another ten-game chapter in the body of consistent work of Alex Ovechkin. In his ten game splits to date, Ovechkin is 6-4-10, 7-6-13, and 5-7-12 (so far, with the Pittsburgh game Monday night to go). Ovechkin has not scored fewer than ten points in any ten-game split thus far in his career. That a second year player can sustain this consistent level of performance – game in and game out – is astonishing.

-- The Caps are 7-1-1 when Matt Pettinger scores a goal.

-- Last night, the Caps won their 13th game in their 29th game played. Last year, the Caps won their 13th game on New Year’s Eve (36th game). In 2003-2004, they won their 13th game on January 11th (43rd game). Progress? You be the judge.

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